Former NSA subcontractor and whistleblower nonpareil, Edward Snowden, appeared Monday at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas.
Speaking via Google Hangout from Russia — where he has lived since being granted asylum by Vladimir Putin last August — Snowden accused the NSA of “setting fire to the future of the Internet” and called on participants to become “firefighters.”
The chromakey screen behind Snowden displayed a parchment copy of the Constitution, and he mentioned that document, declaring that members of the “tech community” can help “enforce our rights.”
Regarding his own commitment to our founding document, Snowden said, “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I saw that the Constitution was being violated on a massive scale.”
As The New American has reported, the NSA has violated the Constitution’s protection against unwarranted searches and seizures by collecting the phone records of millions of Americans, almost all of whom were never accused of any crime and no warrant was ever sought.
During his SXSW address, Snowden spoke of the chilling effect of the NSA’s snooping. “We rely on our ability to trust communications. Without that, we don’t have anything,” Snowden said. "Every citizen has something to lose,” he added. “If we allow NSA to continue unrestrained, it gives other governments the green light to do the same.”
Free and unmonitored communication is one of the fundamental checks on the growth of despotic government. Our Founder’s ability to exchange information under the nose of the British occupiers was critical to their defeat of the overwhelming forces of King George III.
What did Snowden get for his efforts to expose the U.S. intelligence community’s egregious and systemic disregard of constitutional restraints on government surveillance? Three felony criminal charges.
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